Princess Diana's Daring Black Dress Up for Auction

06/08/2010 at 09:30 AM ET

Anwar Hussein/WireImage

It is the dress that launched the young blushing Lady Diana Spencer onto the world as not only Prince Charles’ fiancée, but also as a budding fashion icon who dared to break the royal rules by wearing black to a formal event other than a funeral. The black taffeta gown, worn by Diana in March 1981, also put the young design team of David and Elizabeth Emanuel on the map, beginning a partnership that culminated in the princess-to-be’s much-copied wedding dress. Today, the gown–and a prototype of the fairytale bridal dress–are being auctioned off in London and estimated to fetch up to $150,000. Posing with the black dress Monday, Elizabeth Emanuel reminisced to PEOPLE of the night that the 19-year-old Diana became a front-page star as she joined Prince Charles for her first official appearance with him. “This was really a shadow of what she was to become in terms of a fashion icon,” Emanuel says. “It was the first time that people had seen her looking like a princess. Like a movie star. And grown up.” Despite there being a big political story that day, the emerging Diana “took over all of the front pages,” Emanuel recalls. Soon, it became obvious that the palace would have to confirm what the Emanuels already knew — that they were to make Diana’s wedding dress. And, the history of that creation is included in the sale going live this morning, via London’s Kerry Taylor Auctions. –Simon Perry

Joel Saget/AFP/Getty

FILED UNDER: Fashion , Royalty
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Showing 42 comments

d on

I loved her while she was alive, and still do, but what is so daring about this dress? Yes, it’s strapless, big deal.

B on

It doesn’t look like it now, but when she wore it in 1981, it was very daring given that “stuff upper lip” in Britain.

Lee on

Sure miss seeing her in all those fabulous dresses on the covers of magazines.

MissEvaRay on

Yes, d, there’s nothing particularly “daring” about this dress, but when Princess Diana wore it, it knocked everyone out. It was the first time anyone would think about any part of the royal family as a fashion icon. I remember so well that breath of fresh air! Very exhilirating! Princess Diana is still missed.

L on

Princess Diana was someone I still look up to. Her humanitarian ways made her a modern day hero. She was beautiful in anything she wore.

A on

The fact that it was a black dress is what made it so daring! She wasnt going to a funeral!

jody on

Being 19 and more shy than not, 1981, fiance to Charles, wearing black to a first formal royal function , she showed some billowing cleavage getting out of the car, it was daring. In an exciting way! :) In her books, she says she wanted to look grown-up. Also, that Charles loved it! :)

Lea on

It was a very sophisticated dress for a 19-year-old, too. That was part of people’s reactions.

L on

I loved Princess Diana then and still do today. I just bought her official tartan this weekend and if I could I would buy this dress too. I miss her as much today as I did the day she died. Thankfully she lives on in her boys.

San on

It was daring because wearing black to a formal dinner/party for the royals was highly frowned upon. You only wore black for funerals. Plus, it showed alot of cleavage and again for the royals that was a big no-no. She wore it because she was 19, thought it was appropriate – and Charles liked it and back then it was all about pleasing him by fitting in. I thought she was a beautiful person inside and out and she is missed terribly.

Jon on

That’s very nice, I like Princess Diana’s Daring Black Dress!

Andie on

Really miss seeing her in all her beautiful fashions. She was absolutely gorgeous. What a shame that she is gone.

Becky Thoms on

She was just beautiful in this dress!

carol on

Seeing her style evolve over the years was great. Pretty girl, beautiful woman, fabulous person. Her style sense was “spot on”. Miss her to this day. Imagine how many more lives she could have touched.

DeMented on

I hope the proceeds go to charity; Princess Diana would have wanted that (IMHO).

faye m on

For royalty in the 80’s this was daring especially the color do you ever see any of them in black.

FCR on

She was beautiful and is still missed. So many ordinary women identified with her struggles, and how painful her death will always be. How proud she would be of her boys. Neither has dated a porn star or has had drug problems. I wish them only the best for the future.

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B on

Princess Diana was a fabulous and amazing person – Love the dress, wish I had that kind of cash I’d buy it in a heartbeat!!!

Meg on

It’s good to read the nice comments here regarding Princess Diana. She’s gotten some rough press since 1997 but I thought she was just lovely and just what the word princess was invented for. I miss her.

ellen on

I just loved this young lady, she was so elegant and just brought a smile to our generation. Her death was so sad and needless being hounded and chased as she was,just for a phot op 2 boys grew up w/o their mom and a nation w/o their princess. She was such a humanitarian it’s sad because so much more good could have been done by her had she not been murdered by paps.May she RIP.

debbie on

I miss her. Such class and grace. I wish the boys still had their mom.

Elda on

i miss her so much, my poor babys. beautiful dress.

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luscious on

what daring about it is that it’s black and royals didn’t wear black unless to attend a funeral. she was loved for a lot of things like breaking with protocol.

dhd on

I was fortunate enough to see the traveling Diana tribute/exhibit recently that included several of her famous gowns but the wedding dress had to take the cake!! With that long train and tiara it was just a breathtaking as it was on her wedding day so long ago!!

K on

B, you’re so right, though I think you mean “stiff” upper lip.

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Imelda Agbayani-Estrelles on

MISS HER SO MUCH TILL TODAY! I can’t stop crying when I heard or read something about her tragic death. My heart goes to her boys. SHE WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED as great mother with BIG HEART to poor people in the world, a great fashion icon.

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Jose Perez on

i love the smell of fresh air in the morning. it is so rejuvenation.”,.

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i like instrumental music because of its very relaxing nature.;:

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Indoor Grills on

the morning fresh air is the best, i have asthma and i love to get some fresh air ,’~

Harald on

Hi Hailey,I love the updates you’ve made to the blog. I’d love to hear how you can make an aucocnt for everyone to add things. Nice job on the last workshop-great pictures!Cathy

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